The Indus-Saraswati script is thought to be enigmatic as regards its decipherment, but it is not so any longer. It is India's one of the most simple and easiest ancient scripts. It is the unique by-product of the Indian genius and appears to have borrowed little from any other script of the contemporary ancient world. The direction of its writing is mostly, from left to right as we have the present day Devanagari' script, but in rare cases it is from right to left. Certain examples of boustrophedon writing are also there. The language of the Indus-Saraswati writings is 'Prakrit' and 'Vedic Sanskrit. Interestingly, the names of the 'Puranas' and "Vedic Hymns' find a place in the seals. Mathematical calculations, numerals, brackets synonyms, adjectives etc. show a remarkable height in the use of semantics and prosody. Again, the use of diacritical marks and combination of letters is the chief characteristics of Indus Saraswati writings which is not to be seen elsewhere in any other script of the old world. Present book is the lifetime achievement of the author who has devoted precious 38 years of his academic life to the pursuit and decipherment of this illusive yet interesting script of India.It is self-rewarding to taste the nectar of Saraswati- Indus streams flowing into the great ocean of knowledge and wisdom.
Born at Bangarmau, a small town in district Unnao (UP), Dr. K. S. Shukla graduated in 1957 from Agra University and obtained his Master's degree in English from the same University. Later he did his M.A in A.I.H.C&Archaeology from B.H.U in 1967 and soon after joined the school of Archaeology, New Delhi and topped the list of successful candidates in 1968. He got Ph.D degree from Sagar University, Sagar (M.P). He had excavated Rajghat (Varanasi) and Kalibangan (Rajasthan). He explored more than 70 sites in the upper Mid-Ganga Valley and found for the first time the Acheulian hand axes and Chopper-chopping tools at the ancient sites of Bangarmau and Kannauj in the Ganga Valley. His discovery of pre-Harappan terracotta compartmented seals at many sites in the Ganga Valley has opened a new vista of the archaeological importance of the Gangetic region and its unique contribution to the emergence of writing system in the Sraswati-Indus valleys in the later periods.
The Indian Civilization is basically different from other civilizations of the world. It is rooted in its own soil and no extraneous influences are witnessed in its formation. It is religious in nature, but culturally rich in its content. Therefore, it was in a sound position to offer more to the outside world than to receive anything much from it. According to the Yajurveda (7.14) it was the first great civilization of the world 'sa prathama samskriti visvavara'. This position remained upto the beginning of the Christian Era when foreign elements got mixed with the Indian culture and influenced it to a certain extent.The undercurrent of the Indian civilization has been continuously flowing from the prehistoric period to the present day. This inherent 'Indianness' as the unifying force is nowhere else to be seen in any culture of the world. It has persisted in India from the time immemorial. India's perennial streams like the Ganga, the Saraswati and the Sindhu had witnessed primeordial settlements on their banks. Even these great rivers had been given the status of 'mothers' (sindhu mätärah) and, therefore, held in high esteem for their life-giving water (apsa), which was thought to be the prime source of creation and consequently an integral part of daily ritual. Obviously, the Indian civilization flourished on the banks of these most sacred rivers. In the prehistoric period the Primitive Man sauntered the valleys, plains, thickets and woods along these rivers and hunted wild animals the traces of which are found in the form of numerous Lower Palaeolithic tools and artifacts at such sites as Bangermau, Newal and Kannauj in the upper Mid-Ganga Valley. Even Middle and Upper Palaeolithic tools have also been found at those sites as well as at Kampil and Kalpi in the Ganga-Yamuna Valleys. Epi-palaeolithic sites at Sarai Nahar Rai, Mahagara and Musanagar have also come to light. Lahuradeva in district Sant Kabir Nagar shows human occupation since 8kyr with prominent agricultural practices. Palaeovegetation studies show the Ganga plain to be a grass-land, and there are evidences of some agricultural activity in the form of Cerelia and Cultural pollens and micro-Charcoal since about 15 Kyr B.P. It also seems probable that the Neolithic revolution, change from hunter-gatherer to agriculturalist, took place in the Ganga plain (Atharva Veda. 3.24 : 2) rather earlier than the 'Fertile Crescent' in Mesopotamia. Thus, the Ganga plain is no longer 'Terra incognita' from the prehistoric point of view. The Ganga Valley had also witnessed first of all the massive fortifications along the river banks and around the primitive settlements. It also witnessed the emergence of regal institutions assisted by learned seers and sages who were not only very well versed in state-craft but also in art, architecture, metallurgy, astronomy, trade, navigation, and writing. Brabu traded in arms and was praised by seers for his gifts (R.V. VII. 45.33). The four Vedas are the gifts of the Panchala-Kuru region to the whole mankind. The earliest traces of the old Brahmi script are found in a pre Harappan Terracotta Compartmented seal discovered at Indiranagar Mound (Kanpur) near Bithur (ancient Brahmävarta), the land of the Vedic knowledge (i.e. Brahma). Even the first epic of the world, the Ramayana, was also composed by the sage Valmiki at this place 'tene Brahmahridaye adi Kaviye'. Thus, the advent of writing appears to have been attributed to the Brahmävarta region since the Brahmi is said to be the script of the Vedas and was the daughter of Bharata - Rṣabha Vishwamitra (RV. III 13.14; IX. 71), the King of Kannauj, who is said to be the seer of the 'Gayatri mantra'. Evidently, the old Brähmi, known as Vaidiki, was the daughter of the Brahmavarta region from where Indra (RV IV. 21.5), the supreme Lord of Kannauj, had sent his deputy Videha Madhava to the banks of the Saraswati and Sindhu river to spread Vedic lore and teach sacrificial rituals ('yajamana Aryam'. RV. I. 130.8) with the help of his priest and minister Gotam Rahugana. He had started his school of scribes which produced the 'Vishwajyoti istikas', small steatite tablets or seals, containing the Vedic mantras in the form of pictographs and alphabetical signs of the old Brahmi (i.e. Indus script). It should be noted here that the Copper Hoards of the Ganga Valley do not bear any inscriptions. Therefore, they are pre-Harappan and their associated ware OCP (known a 'Panchal-Kuru ware') is also regarded pre-Harappan by the archaeologists. Some of the Harappan bronze objects and artifacts are, on the contrary, inscribed; therefore, they might have been later than the Copper Hoards of the Ganga Valley; for, carved figures and paintings are earlier than the inscriptions. Moreover, the Copper Hoard harpoons show human faces, wearing beard and horned headgear, a tradition later followed by the Harappans.
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